Hero MotoCorp to adopt Ather Energy’s fast-charging tech for its upcoming electric two-wheelers

EXCLUSIVE!

In a move that will further accelerate the adoption of electric two-wheelers in India, Tech2 can now confirm that Hero MotoCorp has become the first two-wheeler manufacturer to adopt Ather Energy’s fast-charging technology. Hero – the world’s largest two-wheeler company – owns a 35 percent stake in the Bengaluru-based start-up, which opened up the IP on its fast-charging connector in August, offering to help any manufacturer integrate it into their products and ecosystems. Hero MotoCorp has become the first OEM to join hands with Ather Energy for this collaboration as it works to get off to a strong start in India’s fast-growing e-two-wheeler market.

“Ather has received strong interest from several players post the announcement of opening up of our IP for the proprietary fast charging connector in August 2021. We now have Hero MotoCorp as our first partner on this journey to drive faster adoption of EVs. We are also in conversation with other OEMs, charge point operators and charging equipment manufacturers. The public charging infrastructure is now set for consolidation, and we are working closely with several partners to make this future possible”, an Ather spokesperson told Tech2.

Tech2 reached out to Hero MotoCorp for comment, but is yet to hear from the company at the time of this report being filed.

Ather Energy will have 500 charging stations across India by the end of March 2022, which will become available to owners of Hero MotoCorp's electric two-wheelers from Day 1. Image: Tech2

Ather Energy will have 500 charging stations across India by the end of March 2022, which will become available to owners of Hero MotoCorp’s electric two-wheelers from Day 1. Image: Tech2

This is a significant move for both Hero MotoCorp as well as Ather Energy for a number of reasons. Hero MotoCorp is all set to launch its first electric scooter in the country sometime around March 2022. This scooter is understood to follow a fixed charging system, like Ather’s 450 Plus and 450 X e-scooters do, but it’s unclear at this time if this particular scooter will incorporate Ather’s fast-charging connector design.

By April 2022, Ather plans to have 500 charging points across India, and will set up shop in 50 cities, which will include several Tier-II locations. Ather’s relentless drive to set up more charging points all over India will play into Hero MotoCorp’s hands, as its electric two-wheelers will have access to this widespread charging network right from day one. Additionally, Ather’s 3 kW fast charger – which adds 1.5 km of range per minute of charge to the Ather 450X – has been improved and enhanced over time. By using Ather’s connector, Hero will be able to leverage the benefits of an established design and time-tested system, and take on Ola Electric, which intends to set up 5,000 charging stations across India to begin with, on a more even footing.

In the same vein, Ather will benefit from the sheer might of the Hero MotoCorp enterprise, because Hero is also likely to establish its own charging network across India, which will be open for use to owners of Ather’s electric scooters. This consolidated charging network is set to – at least in the near term – hand both Ather and Hero a serious advantage over other players in this space, not just in the domestic market, but potentially in global markets, too. That said, Ather is hoping (and open) to collaborate with more OEMs, as its end goal is to establish a uniform fast-charging standard for e-two-wheelers in the country.

Hero MotoCorp's first electric scooter is expected to follow a fixed charging system. Image: Hero MotoCorp

Hero MotoCorp’s first electric scooter is expected to follow a fixed charging system. Image: Hero MotoCorp

“We are also in conversation with other OEMs, charge point operators and charging equipment manufacturers. The public charging infrastructure is now set for consolidation, and we are working closely with several partners to make this future possible. More OEMs using a common connector will pave the way for an interoperable two-wheeler fast charging platform for the country. This would not only reduce range anxiety, but also allow more OEMs to build products on a common standard thus lowering infrastructure investments”, the Ather spokesperson added.

To make this fast-charging tech sharing exercise a success, Ather will not only provide the information to Hero MotoCorp (and any other OEM interested), but will also assist it in incorporating the fast-charging tech into its products and charging infrastructure, at no cost whatsoever.

Ather Energy is already seeing a sharp rise in monthly sales and is targeting being present in 50 cities by the end of FY2022. Image: Ather Energy

Ather Energy is already seeing a sharp rise in monthly sales and is targeting being present in 50 cities by the end of FY2022. Image: Ather Energy

Likening the fast-charging connector for electric two-wheelers to a USB Type-C cable, Ather Energy CEO Tarun Mehta had said sharing the start-up’s proprietary design would yield substantial returns for all parties involved.

“If more of us use the same connector, more chargers will pop up; more chargers that are out there, faster the EV sales will take off. That helps everybody uniformly. If this move doubles the number of chargers on the road tomorrow, everybody’s sales will double”, Mehta had said in a previous interaction with Tech2.

Also read: Why Ather Energy thinks sharing its fast-charging tech will boost electric two-wheeler sales in India